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Violet Carpenter Bee
Xylocopa violacea ■ Apaj, Hungary ■ A huge, jet black solitary bee. When the light hits the wings at a certain angle, they have a great violet iridescence. The female bores into dead wood to make its nest, hence the common name.
Great Green Bush Cricket
Tettigonia virdissima ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ At about 6 cm (2-1/2 inches) long, this is one of Europe’s largest katydids. It is arboreal and carnivorous, eating caterpillars and other larva. The long ovipositor at the back end identifies this specimen as a female.
Argiope bruennichi ■ Solt járáspuszta, Hungary ■ The female (left) is one of Europe’s largest orb-weavers. Mating for the much smaller male (right) is a hit and run affair as the female will kill and eat him after copulation if she can. This spider doesn’t eat wasps. Its common name comes from the wasp-like pattern on its abdomen.
Forficula smyrnensis ■ Dunaszentbenedek, Hungary ■ This small, colourful earwig is native to the Middle East and Asia Minor but seems to be expanding its range northwestward into Europe. It was first recorded in Hungary in 2004.
European Green Lizard
Lacerta viridis ■ Dunavarsany, Hungary ■ Usually all you see of these medium-sized lizards is a flash of green as they scurry for the undergrowth, so I was lucky to have this one posing for me. Adult males have a bright blue throat, so this specimen is either a female or perhaps a juvenile male.
Jósvafő, Hungary ■ There are about 35,000 known species of longhorn beetle (Cerambycidae) in the world, too many for all of them to have common names. In Europe, late spring is usually the best time to see them as the adults are actively looking for mates. Left is Stenocorus meridianus and right is Dinoptera collaris.
Philonicus albiceps ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ Usually associated with coastal dunes, this robberfly can also be found inland in suitable sandy habitat. Like all robber flies, it is a predator of other, smaller flying insects.
Salamandra salamandra ■ Aggtelek, Hungary ■ A relatively common European salamander but not often seen because it likes to stay hidden under leaf litter, moss or fallen wood. It likes wet deciduous woodlands with streams or ponds for breeding. Its skin secretes a toxic alkaloid and the bright colours are a warning to predators (aposematism).
Natrix natrix ■ Aggtelek, Hungary ■ The yellow and black collar is the diagnostic field mark for this non-venomous snake. It is usually found near water and feeds mostly on frogs and toads.
Spotted Longhorn Beetle
Rutpela maculata ■ Jósvafő, Hungary ■ June is probably the best month for longhorn beetles in central Europe, and here is a very colourful one. The yellow and black pattern is thought to mimic the colours of a wasp so that other insect predators and birds will leave it alone.
Libellula fulva ■ Fertőújlák, Hungary ■ A medium sized dragonfly that likes slow-moving rivers, marshes and floodplains with abundant vegetation. The male is the one with the chalky blue abdomen, while the female is a rich orange colour. Despite the name, the species is reasonably common in Hungary.
Xysticus sp. ■ Fertőújlák, Hungary ■ Crab spiders don’t build webs, but just hunt on the ground. They aren’t fast like wolf spiders so they have to rely on ambush to get something to eat.
Melolontha hippocastani ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ One of the hazards of night birding in late April is this hefty beetle. The males fly around in the dark frantically looking for a mate but they have no radar. They fly straight into your face or the side of your head. Fortunately they make a buzzing noise when they fly so you can hear them approaching and duck! :D
European Roe Deer
Capreolus capreolus ■ Apaj, Hungary ■ This small deer is widespread in Europe and very common in Hungary in a variety of habitats. It mates in the summer which is earlier than most other northern deer species. The fertilized egg, however, remains dormant in the female for about 4 months and does not start to develop until about January, so that the young are not born in winter. Thus the total gestation period from fertilization to birth is about the same as humans.
Epistrophe diaphana ■ Apaj, Hungary ■ This hoverfly is found across Eurasia and likes warm, grassy places with calcareous soil. The adults are partial to white umbellifers such as Queen Anne’s Lace or Cow Parsley.
Trypocopris vernalis ■ Csákberény, Hungary ■ These bright, blue-green dung beetles are a familiar sight in the Hungarian countryside in April. Though small, they really catch the eye with their ultra-glossy iridescence. Found throughout Europe and Asia Minor, they feed mainly on cattle, deer and wild boar droppings.
Radiated Wolf Spider
Hogna radiata ■ Pátka, Hungary ■ Wolf spiders are called that because they hunt down their prey on foot rather than trying to snare it in a web. When babies hatch, the female will often carry them around on her back for several weeks to protect them from predation .
Aeshna mixta ■ Male ■ Bugyi, Hungary ■ This is one of the smaller hawker dragonflies. It is found in central and southern Europe and north Africa. In central Europe it is on the wing right through October, especially if the weather is nice.
Ocypus ophthamalicus ■ Veresegyház, Hungary ■ This small beetle is a nocturnal predator of other smaller creepy-crawlies. It is found across Europe in a variety of habitats but prefers areas with drier soil.
Chrysolina rossia ■ Kiskunlacháza, Hungary ■ Leaf Beetle is a generic common name for any one of about 37,000 species in the Chrysomelidae family. As the name suggests, all members of this family feed on plant material.
Bombyliidae sp. ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ A tiny blonde bombshell, but not sure of the species. Bee flies can be tough to ID because there is so many of them. 4,700 known species in the world with many yet to be discovered or described. They are major pollinators of plants.
Green Drake Mayfly
Ephemera danica ■ Szelcepuszta, Hungary ■ Mayflies are primitive flying insects belonging to the same ancient order as dragonflies and damselflies. The larva live in fresh water and the adults can form dense swarms when they all emerge at once to mate. In Europe this can happen anytime from May to August depending on the species. The adult stage of their life cycle typically lasts for one day.
Alpine Longhorn Beetle
Rosalia alpina ■ Due to sharp population declines from habitat loss, this beetle is classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN and is a protected species in many European countries including Hungary. It is not really an “alpine” species but likes higher elevation mature beech forests.
Mantis religiosa ■ Nagytarcsa, Hungary ■ If you think internet dating is tough, think about how rough it is for mantises. Sex first, then dinner, then she has to go to the movie alone because she just ate her partner for dinner. :D
Small Gold Grasshopper
Euthystira brachyptera ■ Tornakápolna, Hungary ■ One of the commoner grasshoppers on the Hungarian puszta. The specific epithet means “short-winged” in reference to their very stubby wings. As you might guess, this means that they are not great fliers
Dryomys nitedula ■ Nagytarcsa, Hungary ■ Dormice are small, nocturnal, arboreal rodents with bushy tails. Kind of like a cross between a mouse and a squirrel. They eat fruits, nuts, seeds and insects and hibernate during the winter. This species is found in montane habitats in SW Europe, Asia Minor and parts of Central Asia.
Decticus verrucivorus ■ Tornakápolna, Hungary ■ People in Europe used to try and remove warts by letting this medium-sized bush cricket chew on them. Although nobody has done this for a couple of hundred years, the name stuck. The long, curved ovipositor at the back end identifies this as a female.
Cicada orni ■ The cicada’s loud drone is a classic sound of the hottest days of summer. There are about 3,000 species in the world and this is the commonest in southern and central Europe. The larva can take a few years to develop underground, but adults of this species appear every year.
Calliptamus sp. ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ I think this is likely C. italicus but not positive. Despite the designation, C. italicus is found across the continent and is probably the commonest short-horned locust in Europe. A major food source for the Red-footed Falcon.
Pale Giant Horsefly
Tabanus bovinus ■ Josvafő, Hungary ■ Not positive on this ID. It could be T. sudeticus. The two species are tied for Europe’s largest and heaviest dipterid. Like most horseflies, only the females bite, as they require the protein from blood to make eggs. They don’t bite humans as much as the much smaller deer flies.
Calopteryx virgo ■ Male (left) Female (right) ■ Josvafő, Hungary ■ This large damselfly looks similar to the Banded Demoiselle but the male has entirely black wings. Also it prefers a different habitat. It likes fast moving water, such as rushing mountain streams while the Banded Demoiselle likes calm, slow moving water.
Calopteryx splendens ■ Female (left) Male (right) ■ Rétszilás, Hungary ■ This large damselfly is relatively common and is partial to shady spots near water. Like their relatives the dragonflies, damselflies don’t have a pupal stage in their life cycle, progressing from larva directly to adult. This species is found from Portugal all the way to Lake Baikal in Siberia.
Limax maximus ■ Dinnyés, Hungary ■ Despite the name, this is not the largest slug species I have seen in Hungary. It is native to Europe but has become naturalized in many other parts of the world.
Graphosoma italicum ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ Also known as the Striped Bug, its outrageous colour scheme makes it the most recognizable shield bug in Europe, along with the very similar Graphosoma lineatum. The two look so similar, you have to look at leg colour to tell them apart. G. lineatum has brown legs while G. italicum has mostly black legs.
Crocothemis erythraea ■ Male ■ Délegyháza, Hungary ■ The male of this heat-loving species is absolutely unmistakable with its flattened abdomen and striking, deep crimson colour.
Tetragnatha extensa ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Not positive on this ID. Tetragnatha spiders are orb weavers mostly found in the tropics near water, but a few species occur in temperate climates. This one has caught a White-legged Damselfy (Platycnemis pennipes).
Scolia hirta ■ Female ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Scolid wasps are large, solitary insects that parasitize beetle larva. They paralyze the grub and then lay an egg on it. When the eggs hatches, the wasp larva eats the beetle grub alive. This species is found in the Mediterranean Basin and Central Europe.
Libelliodes macaronius ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ This spectacular bug is not a true fly, but belongs to the same ancient family as lacewings and antlions. It is a diurnal predator of other flying insects, and the adults are only on the wing for about two to three weeks every year. Owl flies often spread their wings at rest (mimicking a dragonfly) as an aposematic warning to predators.
Orthetrum brunneum ■ Female ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ This dragonfly loves heat and direct sunlight. They can often be found basking in the sun on bare patches of earth or rocks near water.
Orthetrum brunneum ■ Male ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Southern Skimmers (like most of Orthetrum genus) are very large dragonflies. They are usually on the wing from mid-June to mid-August. The male will establish a territory and then patrol it to drive away rival males.
Tolmerus atricapillus ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Robberflies are renowned for aggressive predatory habits. They will tackle almost anything of suitable size including bees, wasps and spiders. It pierces its prey with a short, strong proboscis, injecting a neurotoxin and a digestive enzyme. While the toxin paralyzes the victim, the enzyme liquifies the insides, so the fly can suck it out through the proboscis. Yum!
Orthetrum coerulescens ■ Female ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ With their bold colours and patterns one would think dragonflies are easy to identify but that’s not always the case. This female has virtually the identical colour scheme as the Scarlet Darter. Size and shape of the abdomen are needed to tell them apart.
Volucella zonaria ■ Female ■ Törökbálint, Hungary ■ Note how closely the colour scheme of this hoverfly (left) matches that of the European Hornet (inset). This is known as Batesian mimicry and it is quite common in nature. Dressing up as a bad-ass fools the predators into leaving you alone.
Orthetrum cancellatum ■ Female ■ Rétszílás, Hungary ■ Like most dragonflies, this large dragonfly is found near water, but it prefers areas that are not so heavily vegetated and have patches of bare earth. Proliferation of gravel pits have actually helped this species expand its range by creating the kind of habitat it likes.
Crocothemis erythraea ■ Female ■ Ocsa, Hungary ■ In Europe, this dragonfly is only found in the southern part of the continent. Its range extends into Africa and Asia. It likes hot, sunny weather and tends to avoid the shade, which means getting a good photo is tough.
Hemipenthes morio ■ Josvafő, Hungary ■ In nature, even the parasites have parasites. The larva of this tiny bee fly develop in the larva of parasitic ichneumon wasps.
Rhagium sycophanta ■ Aggtelek, Hungary ■ This beetle has much shorter antennae than is typical for longhorn beetles. It is found in deciduous woodland and its colour pattern helps it blend in with tree bark. The grubs feed on damaged or diseased wood.
Violet Oil Beetle
Meloe violaceus ■ Velem, Hungary ■ These large, flightless beetles get their name from the oily hemolymphatic fluid they release when disturbed. They have an interesting life cycle. After hatching, the tiny larva will climb a plant and attach itself to a visiting bee to be carried back to the bee’s hive. There it will feed on bee eggs, larva and nectar until it emerges as an adult. Why the bees just don’t kill it is a mystery to me.
Nagusta goedelii ■ Törökbálint, Hungary ■ An ambush predator of other small bugs, it injects them with a saliva containing enzymes that dissolves their insides. It then just sucks out the liquified guts like a Slurpee. Yum! :D
Libellula fulva ■ Female ■ Apaj, Hungary ■ In Britain this species is known as the Scarce Chaser. Only the males sport the blue livery. Ladies, like this specimen, have to settle for dull orange. As dragonflies don’t have a pupal stage in their life cycles, the larva typically take two years to reach adulthood.
Green Tiger Beetle
Cincindela campestris ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ Tiger beetles are tiny, colourful and fast… both on the ground and in flight. They are tough photo subjects because they are very skittish and never seem to allow close approach.
Dorcadion fulvum ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ There are lots of longhorn beetles but many, like this one, don’t have common names. This beetle is found throughout southeastern Europe, and feeds mostly on plant material.
Gnaptor spinimanus ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Darkling beetles (Tenebrionidae) are a large family of about 20,000 species. I use the name here because this species doesn’t have a common name. G. spinimanus likes dry, warm places with loose soil and feeds mostly on dead plant material. It is found in southeast Europe.
Rana dalmatina ■ Balatonmagyaród, Hungary ■ This is Hungary’s commonest woodland frog. They usually start breeding in March but this one was out and about on a warm February day.
Common Drone Fly
Eristalis tenax ■ Apaj, Hungary ■ This species is the most cosmopolitan of the syrphids, being found on every continent except Antarctica. Its theme song should be “I Get Around” by the Beach Boys. :D
Forficula auricularia ■ Male ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ This bug gets its name from the shape of the wings which resemble a human ear when unfolded. Native to Europe but now naturalized in North America, the earwig is omnivorous and can cause damage to food crops. The male is recognized by the longer, curved pincers at the back end. The female’s are shorter and straighter.
European Mole Cricket
Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa ■ Pátka, Hungary ■ Mole crickets are reasonably common but you don’t see them too often because they spend most of their time in underground burrows. Their front legs have claws adapted for digging.
Cerocoma schreberi ■ Female ■ Solt, Hungary ■ This species of blister beetle shimmers like a tiny emerald. The color is a warning to predators to stay away as it can produce a nasty toxin if attacked. That’s why it can forage out in the open during the daytime.
Epicauta rufidorsum ■ Dunaszentbenedek, Hungary ■ As protection against predators, blister beetles produce a toxin that can cause the skin to blister and, at higher doses can be fatal. If enough of these bugs get into fodder, the toxin can kill cattle.
Natrix tesselata ■ Nagytétény, Hungary ■ This snake gets its common name from the dots on its underside which resemble markings on dice. It is the most aquatic of Hungarian snakes, feeding mostly on fish, frogs, tadpoles and large aquatic insects.
Black-headed Cardinal Beetle
Pyrochroa coccinea ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ In nature, poisonous species are often brightly coloured as a warning to predators. This is known as aposematism and this conspicuous beetle is an example. The male can produce a poisonous terpene known as cantharidin.
Leucophyes pedestris ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ Weevils are small, herbivorous beetles easily identified by a large or long snout. With a staggering 97,000 species worldwide, they represent the largest family in the order Coleoptera (beetles). This species is found in sandy or calciferous soils in southern Europe.
Clytus arietis ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ This small, relatively common longhorn beetle mimics the color pattern of a wasp so that predators will leave it alone. It can even make a buzzing sound when threatened.
European Spadefoot Toad
Pelobates fuscus ■ Pusztaszer, Hungary ■ This small frog spends much of its life underground in sandy or loose soils. Its name comes from the hardened protrusions on the underside of its back feet which it uses to push soil aside and bury itself backwards.
European Field Cricket
Gryllus campestris ■ Budaörs, Hungary ■ Hungary has a healthy population of this large, bull-headed cricket, but it is in serious decline in other parts of Europe because of habitat loss and fragmentation. It is hard for the species to move around much because it is flightless.
Greater Bee Fly
Bombylius major ■ Budaörs, Hungary ■ Bee flies are masters of the air, being able to hover and change direction with precision as they probe flowers for nectar with their long, rigid proboscis. Although the adults are vegan, they lay eggs near the underground nests of solitary bees and wasps, so that the larva can chow down on the larvae of the bee or wasp.
European Paper Wasp
Polistes dominula ■ Female ■ Törökbálint, Hungary ■ One of the commoner eusocial wasps, this species is native to southern Europe and North Africa but has become widely naturalized in other parts of the world. They chew up wood and mix it with saliva to form the “paper” for their nests. As with bees, paper wasp society is dominated by the females.
Philanthus sp. ■ Törökbálint, Hungary ■ Beewolves are solitary wasps that prey on honeybees to feed their young. They paralyze the bee with a sting and then bury it in an underground chamber with an egg. When the egg hatches, the larva feed on the bee. The adults cultivate Streptomyces bacteria in glands at the base of the antennae and transfer these bacteria to the brood cells, which in turn help protect the cell from microbiological pathogens.
Anax imperator ■ Nymph ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Unlike other winged insects, dragonflies do not have a pupal stage in their life cycle, transitioning straight from larva (like this one) to adulthood. This may account for the very long development time for nymphs. They can take up to a year or more, and undergo multiple moults before they are ready to emerge as adults. Dragonfly nymphs are strictly aquatic and are voracious eaters, equipped with special elongated, hinged jaws for capturing prey.
Geolycosa vultuosa ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ With a legspan of about 8 cm (3-1/2 inches) this is one of Europe’s largest spiders. There are about 75 members of the Geolycosa genus and this particular species is found only in extreme SE Europe and Asia Minor. Wolf spiders don’t build webs but chase down or ambush their prey. For doing so, they have some of the best eyesight in the spider world.
Chrysops sp. ■ Szabadszállás, Hungary ■ There are about 250 species in the Chrysops genus and a lot of them look very similar. I think this may be Chrysops viduatus (Square Spot Deer Fly) but not absolutely sure. Deer flies, like their cousins the horse flies, like the heat. They are typically most active on sunny days when the temperature reaches about 24 celsius or higher. Only the females bite and drink blood, which they need to produce eggs.
Martes foina ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ The Beech Marten is reasonably common in urban and suburban environments in Hungary. Strictly nocturnal habits and shyness towards humans means they are not often seen. Too bad you only get a really good look at one when its deceased.
Pelophylax ridibundus ■ Rétszílás, Hungary ■ This young Marsh Frog has a lot of growing up to do, as this species is Europe’s largest native frog.
Vespa crabro ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ At about 3 cm long, this is Europe’s largest eusocial wasp. It is also the only member of the Vespa genus (ie: true hornets) found in North America.
Northern White-breasted Hedgehog
Erinaceous roumanicus ■ Törökbálint, Hungary ■ I didn’t know hedgehogs were partial to peanuts until I saw this little guy chowing down in the middle of the day on some I had left out for the birds.
Xanthogramma pedissequum ■ Female ■ Budapest Hungary
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
Halyomorpha halys ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ The bug that is taking over the world. Originally from the far east, this agricultural pest is spreading like wildfire in North America, South America and Europe. Hardy, adaptable, mobile, a prolific breeder and able to eat a wide variety of plants and fruits makes it very difficult to control.
Cantharis fusca ■ Ocsa, Hungary ■ One of the commoner European soldier beetles
Ophion obscuratus ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ A nocturnal, forest-dwelling species that is active during mild winters, this one showed up at our card table in January.
Netelia testacea? ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Nocturnal ichneumon wasps are often attracted to light such as this specimen which visited our moth light. Not sure on this ID. I think it is Netelia, but possible it could be Ophion genus.
Common Green Lacewing
Chrysoperia carnea ■ Inárcs, Hungary ■ The larvae of this species have huge jaws relative to their size, and are voracious predators of aphids, mites and other tiny bugs. Once adults, however, they eat only pollen and nectar.
Nicrophorus vespillo ■ Inárcs, Hungary ■ This beetle lays its eggs on a small dead mouse, bird, reptile or amphibian, and then buries the carcass, so its larva can hatch and feed on the carrion in peace. Before burying, it covers the carcass in anti-fungal and anti-bacterial secretions to slow the decay process and inhibit the odor of rotting flesh, so it will be harder for other carrion eaters to find the stash.
Chlorophorus varius ■ Rétimajor, Hungary ■ Long-horned Beetle refers to any one of the 26,000 species in the family Cerambycidae. This particular species, seen here feeding on Queen Anne’s Lace, is found from Central to Southern Europe, Asia Minor, the Caucasus and the Middle East.
Common Red Soldier Beetle
Rhagonycha fulva ■ Rácalmás, Hungary ■ The Brits colloquially refer to this bug as the Hogweed Bonking Beetle because of its preference for mating on hogweed.
Green Huntsman Spider
Micrommata virescens ■ Male ■ Törökbálint, Hungary ■ Huntsman spiders are mostly found in the tropics, with this species being the only one of the family (Sparassidae) found in Europe. They do not build webs, but chase down their bug prey in vegetation, where their green colour helps them blend in.
Cervus elaphus ■ Dunaszentbenedek, Hungary ■ The size of an average horse, Europe’s Red Deer is the 4th largest deer species in the world. It is not too common in the Hungarian lowlands only because of the lack of large stands of mature forest that the deer seem to prefer.
Carrhotus xanthogramma ■ Male ■ Rétimajor, Hungary
Western Conifer Seed Bug
Leptoglossus occidentalis ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Native to Western North America, this bug arrived in Europe in 1999 (likely in shipments of lumber) and has since spread rapidly across the continent.
Lacerta agilis ■ Bugyi, Hungary ■ This medium-sized lizard has a widespread if somewhat patchy distribution in Europe and Asia. The subspecies found is Hungary is L.a. argus but I thought this specimen looked more like L.a. bosnica. The problem with many lizard species is that wide variations in appearance is normal, which can make ID difficult.
Canis aureus ■ Dinnyés, Hungary ■ Similar in size and habits to North America’s coyote, the Golden Jackal is found throughout South Asia, the Middle East, Asia Minor and the southeast corner of Europe. Hungary is the absolute northern limit of its current range. This individual was unsuccessfully stalking waders in the middle of a summer day.
Acrida hungarica ■ Dunaszentbenedek, Hungary ■ A surprise visitor to our moth light was Hungary’s largest (and weirdest-looking) locust.
European Stag Beetle
Lucanus cervus ■ Male ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Like other beetles that need rotting wood habitat, this species is in decline across its range. The mandibles look nasty, but they are so long that the bite force generated is not so strong. They are used mostly for jousting with other males over territory and mates.
Lesser Water Boatman
Corixa punctata ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ Unlike larger members of the water boatman family, this species does not swim on its back, and it eats only plants. It is highly aquatic but on warm nights the adults will fly around. We had dozens around our moth light on this night.
Hybomitra distinguenda ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ The lack of orange patches on the side of the abdomen means I am not absolutely certain on this ID, but one thing is for sure. This guy has the funkiest shades in the bug world. A fly fly! :D
Nursery Web Spider
Pisaura mirabilis ■ Halásztelek, Hungary
Tenthredo temula ■ Dunakeszi, Hungary ■ A common Eurasian sawfly, this species, like many others in the family, mimic wasps to deter predation.
European June Beetle
Amphimallon solstitiale ■ Törökbálint, Hungary ■ As the specific epithet suggests, the adults of this common European scarab beetle emerge from the ground right around the time of the summer solstice in late June. They are active mainly at night, as they fly around looking for a mate.
European Green Toad
Bufotes viridis ■ Érd, Hungary ■ This colorful toad can be found in a wide range of habitats across Central and Eastern Europe .... aquatic, terrestrial, lowland and montane.
Megascolia maculate ■ Female ■ Kecskemét, Hungary ■ The Airbus A380 of the wasp world, the Mammoth Wasp is Europe's largest and heaviest wasp. Females are almost 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length. Males are much smaller and all black. This wasp specializes in parasitizing the larva of the European Rhinoceros Beetle.
European Crane Fly
Tipula paludosa ■ Budaörs, Hungary ■ A familiar sight in houses and gardens in summer, Crane Flies are sometimes mistaken for large mosquitos. Unlike mosquitos, these large, gangly insects don't bite. Crane Fly courtship has to skip the romantic dinner part as they don't eat as adults. They emerge from the ground only to mate and die, sometimes within days.
Esox luciusa ■ Tata, Hungary ■ Widespread in temperate regions of Eurasia and North America, the predatory Northern Pike can grow up to 25 kg. With an elongated body, flattened head, sharp teeth, and large dorsal and anal fins set well back on the body for maximum thrust, the pike is built for the kill.
Acrida hungarica ■ Kunpeszér, Hungary ■ Sept. 7, 2014 ■ Members of the Acrida genus have a super-elongated forehead with eyes at the very top, just below flat antennae. This bizarre, conehead structure may be an adaptation to help avoid predation by improving its field of vision.
Northern White-breasted Hedgehog
Erinaceous roumanicus ■ Budaörs, Hungary ■ Although common, hedgehogs are infrequently seen because of nocturnal habits. They sleep away the day in a cavity or thick bush, and comes out at night to forage for worms, insects, fruits and berries.
European Tree Frog
Hyla arborea ■ Female ■ Apaj, Hungary ■ H. arborea is the only member of the extensive tree frog family that is native to Europe, although some of the many subspecies may now be classifed as full species.
Dolomedes fimbriatus ■ Female ■ Érd, Hungary ■ So named because it hunts on the surface of the water, it is one of Europe’s largest spiders.
Sympetrum fonscolombii ■ Female ■ Solt Járás-Puszta, Hungary
European Garden Snail
Cornu aspersum ■ Dunakeszi, Hungary
Tipula lunata ■ Dunakeszi, Hungary ■ Crane flies can be hard to identify, but I think this one is T. lunata. Like all Dipterids (true flies), crane flies have only one pair of wings, with the second pair reduced to club-like appendages called halteres. One of the halteres can be seen well in this photo just astern of the right wing.
Epistrophe grossulariae ■ Female ■ Dunakeszi, Hungary ■ Flies of the family Syrphidae (Hover flies) mimic the appearance of stinging insects such as wasps or bees to deter predation.
Myothropa florea ■ Drone ■ Halásztelek, Hungary ■ Hover flies can be sexed by the space between the eyes at the top of the head. Generally males have eyes that touch, while ladies have a gap between the eyes.
Coreus marginatus ■ Dunakeszi, Hungary ■ Living up to its common name, a pair of Dock Bugs look for mates on a Clustered Dock plant.
Black and Red Froghopper
Cercopis vulnerata ■ Dunakeszi, Hungary ■ A pair of Froghoppers chilling on an iris flower. Froghoppers belong to the same order of plant-sucking insects that include the cicadas, aphids, and leafhoppers.
European Pond Turtle
Emys obicularis ■ Apaj, Hungary
Myrmecaelurus trigrammus ■ Taksony, Hungary ■ A great looking black and yellow striped adult antlion.
European Ground Sqirrel
Spermophilus citellus ■ Közeppeszer, Hungary ■ Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, this southeastern European native is in decline to the point where it is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN.
Cetonia aurata ■ Törökbálint, Hungary ■ A common European scarab beetle, the Rose Chafer can fly with its wing cases down, giving it considerably faster and smoother flight than is typical for large beetles.
Pelophylax kl. esculentus ■ Rétszilas, Hungary ■ This common European frog is a hybrid between the Pool Frog (P. lessonae) and the Marsh Frog (P. ridibundus). It is the frog most frequently used in French cuisine, hence the name.
Common Flesh Fly
Sarcophaga carnaria ■ Biatorbágy, Hungary ■ They say shit happens, and nobody is happier about it than this medium-sized European fly. Its main source of sustenance is feces and carrion.
Sympetrum vulgatum ■ Male ■ Rácalmás, Hungary ■ The bulbous abdomen is one feature that helps separate this species from the similar Common Darter (S. striatum).
Trimarcha tenebricosa ■ Tass, Hungary ■ This beetle’s common name comes from its defensive strategy of spitting out a red, foul tasting hemolymphatic fluid when threatened.
Villa agrippina ■ Female ■ Rácalmás, Hungary ■ I am not absolutely positive on this ID.
Common Scorpion Fly
Panorpa communis ■ Budapest, Hungary
European Garden Spider
Araneus diadematus ■ Female ■ Budaörs, Hungary ■ Also known as the Cross Spider, because the white dots on its back form a cross pattern.
Xanthogramma pedissequum ■ Drone ■ Apaj, Hungary
Orthonevra sp.? ■ Apaj, Hungary ■ A great-looking but unidentified syrphid. I am guessing Orthonevra genus, but definitely not O. nitida.
Helophilus affinis ■ Female ■ Bugyi, Hungary ■ Feeding on Saw-wort.
Glis glis ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ This largest dormouse species is so named because the ancient Romans bred them for food. Nocturnal and largely arboreal, dormice spend six months of the year hibernating.
Muscardinus avellanarius ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ Prior to going underground to hibernate for the winter, family groups hang out in tit nest boxes.
Southern Green Stink Bug
Nezara viridula ■ 4th instar (ie: nymph) ■ Budapest, Hungary
Common European Toad
Bufo bufo ■ Female ■ Dinnyés, Hungary
European Brown Hare
Lepus europaeus ■ Apaj, Hungary ■ Hares are unique as the only mammals with a jointed or kinetic skull. It is thought that this adaptation allows the braincase to better absorb the shock and g-force generated by the animal’s extreme speed.
Dasypogon diadema ■ Nagyharsány, Hungary ■ A male (right) courts a female (left). This is one of the larger and more common asilids in Central Europe, and it is partial to limestone karst.
Episyrphus balteatus ■ Kiskunlacháza, Hungary ■ One of Europe’s commoner hover flies, seen here feeding on German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), the common name is probably due to the color on the abdomen. After an adolescence munching on aphids, the adults become vegans, eating mostly pollen and nectar.
Anisoplia austriaca ■ Biatorbágy, Hungary ■ A crop pest in Central and Eastern Europe, this scarab beetle dines on unripe wheat and barley. You might say it is a gluten glutton.
Zootoca vivapara ■ Juvenile ■ Budapest, Hungary ■ With a range that extends up to the Arctic circle, this is the most northerly reptile species. As both the common and scientific names indicate, it is one of the few that bears live young rather than laying eggs.
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